Sudipto was driving home late one night – later than usual, at least. The clock was ticking closer to welcoming the new day. The roads, broad and empty of the never-ending stream of cars, lit with street lamps on both sides, white and blue fairy lights trailing the silver poles. There were no buildings, no civilisation laying home along this road – only roads, statues and a wide, green patch in the middle of the city, fondly called the city’s lungs. He pushed the clutch and rammed the car into the fourth gear as he approached Red Road. Parts of his twelve-year-old ambassador creaked at the engine speed falling a decade or so short of a ton. He could never drive at such speeds with a passenger at the back – they called it rash driving – but this was when he enjoyed his bread earning life choice. It was always the bus and taxi drivers who drove rashly, never the rule admonishing pedestrian or the swerving bikers and honking and overtaking private cars.
He took the circuitous path home through Red Road, choosing to enjoy the wind rather than hurrying to park the taxi in the garage. The window on his side was already open, so he leaned to the left to roll down the passenger window too. The wind rushed into the car from both sides, driving out the smells of the day – the food, the sweat, the leather. He threw open a few more buttons of his front open shirt, unzipping his pants. The sudden touch of air on his sweat-caked skin made him shiver, a rarity in the humid city.
The next right would take him towards home. As he approached the turn, he still honked on the deserted road out of practised caution. The next moment he got distracted by someone waving out from the extreme left side of the road – he saw it out of the corner of his eye. He had slowed down for the turn but his head was now craned towards the left to see if he could help the person. He saw glimpses of white and then nothing more. Just like that, there was no one there anymore. He blinked his eyes rapidly, not sure if he was hallucinating before or now. His hands turning the wheel right and legs controlling the speed, he’d made the turn and sharply looked right to check again towards where he’d seen the hapless soul but nothing anymore. He’d heard stories of hauntings before but had never believed in them. He wasn’t afraid. He dismissed the incident and looked ahead to find the lane plunged in darkness. As if on cue with his sight on the road, the car’s headlights flickered off and the engine sputtered to a stop. Now he was afraid.